How to Spend Your Summers in Preparation for Law School
For college students intent on pursuing law school, how you spend your undergrad summers matters. Jenn Kopolow, Partner at Spivey Consulting and former Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Richmond School of Law, recently explained why undergrad summers matter and how students can make the best use of their time in preparation for law school.
TAKE ON WORK EXPERIENCE
Summer can be a great time to explore your professional interests through work experience. The good news, Kopolow says, is that your work experience doesn’t need to be law-related.
“Any jobs or internships that build the foundational talents you will be flexing in law school and as a lawyer—think critical reading, researching, writing, and analysis; problem-solving; advocacy; teamwork; innovation; business development; client service; negotiation; and interpersonal communication, among many others—can be incredibly worthwhile pursuits for your personal and professional maturity and goal-setting (not to mention your law school applications),” Kopolow writes.
For law-related jobs, you’ll want to look into working as a paralegal or legal assistant.
“Paralegal work can burnish your resume and result in a strong recommendation letter,” Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, says. “Paralegals also gain key insights into how legal positions differ in their culture, challenges, pace and expectations.”
If you’re unable to land a job for the summer, Kopolow recommends finding other ways to build experience and grow, such as through volunteer work.
“Remember, you’re looking to enter a service-oriented calling,” Kopolow writes. “In the absence of securing skilled summer employment (or in addition to, if possible), showing that you’ve deliberately opted to fill your limited free time with meaningful community engagement can be personally gratifying and boost your strength as a law school applicant.”
CONNECT WITH PROFESSIONALS
Engaging with professionals in the legal industry can be a great way to learn more about what types of jobs interest you and what you might want to pursue. Kopolow suggests connecting with any attorneys—whether through family, friends, or mutual friends.
“Talk to them about their work,” Kopolow writes. “How did they get involved in their particular niche? What do they enjoy or not enjoy about their field? What is a typical day like for them, if such a thing exists?”
If you don’t have immediate connections, Kopolow recommends looking to your college for resources.
“Many universities have a pre-law advisor and/or a pre-law organization like Phi Alpha Delta,” Kopolow writes. “Your professors (particularly in the humanities subjects) may have some contacts in the legal world. You can use these resources to connect to people working in the legal field and to learn about different areas of law.”
Sources: Spivey Consulting, US News
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